My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

Motivation

on June 12, 2012

(This topic was suggested by my sister-in-law Trish)

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I’ll warn you now, this may be a long post. But I hope you will keep reading.

Not too long ago, I was looking for topics for my blog. My wonderful sister-in-law Trish suggested I post about things that keep me motivated along my journey. There are days we all have trouble staying motivated (no matter what we are working on), so I thought it was a good topic to write about.

Several people have asked me about motivation over the past couple of years. What motivated me to start? What keeps me motivated? What do I do for motivation on those dark days? There are days when I have to remind myself of the answers.

Motivation is different for everyone. What helps one person may or may not help someone else. Everyone who embarks on a journey to improve themselves does so for a different reason. But it basically comes down to this: if you want to succeed, you need to do it for yourself. Sure, you can say you are doing it for your spouse, your family, your doctor, but in reality you have to do it for yourself. You can be inspired by someone else, but you ultimately need to do it for you.

In my opinion, motivation and inspiration go hand in hand. They can work separately or together. Some of what I’m going to write about here, I also wrote about in my post about inspiration. But I think it deserves to be repeated.

This is the story of how I finally became motivated to change my life:

I’ve been overweight almost my entire life. I started gaining weight when I was about 5 years old. I had severe asthma as a child and it really limited my activity. I was also extremely shy, so I didn’t have many friends. I was made fun of a lot and was a favourite target of bullies, so I turned to food for comfort. My parents tried to help me several times over the years, but it never worked for long. I always went back to my bad habits. I felt like almost everyone around me was giving up on me, so I gave up on me.

I had really low self-esteem. I was always down on myself. I continued to turn to food for comfort. I had a few close friends who always told me how amazing I was, but I’m not sure I ever truly believed it. I tried a few times to lose weight and be healthier, but the motivation wasn’t really there, so I would ultimately fail.

Then something amazing happened. I met the love of my life. Dan and I met in a chat room on the Internet. I was not looking for love, it just found me. At the time, I was living with a roommate who was making my life miserable. I started chatting on line hoping to find some intelligent conversation. And somehow Dan ended up in the same chat room. We started chatting and became friends. We chatted nearly every day. Slowly our friendship turned into love. The next year we got married. This year, we will be married for 14 years. I love him more than he will ever know. He loves me no matter what. He accepts me no matter what. I’m not sure he realizes how much that means to me.

After getting married, Dan and I both gained weight. It was just the two of us, so we ate out a lot or we ate a lot of processed foods. Dan is a vegetarian, but I’m not, so eating out or eating tv dinners was just easier for us. We just weren’t paying attention to our health. I’m not sure how much weight we each gained, but it was enough that neither of us was very happy. But we had not yet had the motivation to do something about it.

And then I started getting sick. We had been married just over 10 years. I tried not dealing with it for a while, hoping it would just go away, but that didn’t work. It finally got to the point where I could not ignore it anymore. I finally had the courage to talk to my family doctor. He sent me for tests and then another test. And then 2 weeks before my 39th birthday, I was diagnosed with cancer. I was lucky in that it was found very early. I knew in that moment I would have to change my life if I wanted to stick around.

So that was my motivation to start my journey to be a healthier me. As ugly and as painful as that day was in 2009, it was the day that ultimately would save my life. I knew that things would be different this time. It had to be different.

So you might be asking yourself if that’s the motivation that started my journey, what keeps me motivated?

When I’m having a bad day or I start to get down on myself, I think back to that day. I remember what it was like sitting in that doctor’s office, hearing those words, and I NEVER want to be there again. So that’s one thing that keeps me motivated.

Having the support of my wonderful husband helps keep me motivated too. I know he loves me no matter what, but it’s great that he is there for me as I navigate through my journey. My cancer scared us both and we are both trying to be healthier people as a result.

And of course my friends keep me motivated as well. Friends I’ve had for 15 years and more, who always told me how amazing I am, which now I’m beginning to believe. And friends I’ve only had a few years who tell me what a great job I’m doing. And new friends I’ve made in just the last few months who say they are inspired by me and say I’m looking great. Every one of them keeps me motivated.

When I do something I’ve never been able to do before, it motivates me to continue. When I can do something longer than I could before, it motivates me to continue. When I can do something faster than I could before, it motivates me to continue. When I get better at doing something, it motivates me to continue.

When I have to buy new clothes because what I have is too big, it motivates me to continue. Each time I have to buy a smaller size, it motivates me to continue. When I look in the mirror and think I look cute in whatever I’m wearing, it motivates me to continue. When I step on that scale and watch a lower number come up, it motivates me to continue.

And what about those dark days? The days when everything feels like a struggle, even just getting out of bed … the days when it feels like I can’t do anything … the days when I just want to give up. What do I do on those days to keep myself motivated?

Those are the days that I really need help with motivation. I need to find that extra something to keep me going, to help me do one more rep, one more minute on the treadmill, one more sec of a plank.

I dig deep and think back to why I started this journey to begin with and that sometimes helps me find that extra motivation I need.

Or I reach out to my friend Jeff. He is easily one of the dearest friends I have. I wish everyone could have a friend like him. He has this amazing way of knowing when I need a laugh, or a pick-me-up speech, or a drill sergeant speech. Because he’s on his own journey, he understands the triumphs and trials, the ups and downs. It’s great having someone like that when you need them. He really helps keep me motivated.

And then there’s Tyler. He may be my trainer, but he is also my friend. His belief in me, his confidence in me is a huge boost to my motivation. When I’m doubting myself, when I really don’t think I can, he tells me I can. Sometimes he has to tell me a few times, but I start to believe that I can do it. The doubt fades away and I do it. And when I do, it motivates me to keep going, to do more.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I talk about Jeff and Tyler a lot. They are both a big part of my journey. Both of them keep me inspired and motivated. I owe a lot of my success to them. I’m sure they’ll say no, it’s all me, that I’m doing all the work. Sure that is true, but without their help and support, I’m not sure I would be as far along as I am. I’ve not had many people in my life who believe in me as much as these two do. That is HUGE motivation.

The key is to have more good days than bad. But when you do have a bad day, it’s okay. Everyone has a bad day. Remember that. Everyone has a bad day. Try not to let it get you down. Pick yourself up and brush yourself off. And if you need help staying motivated, think about why you started to begin with, think about where you want to go, think about all you have accomplished up to now. And if you still need help, remember your family and friends. And hopefully, you all have friends like Jeff and Tyler.

Motivation is different for everyone. Remember that what works for one person may or may not work for another. These are the things that work for me. I’d like to know what motivates you. Please leave me a comment or send me a message.

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One response to “Motivation

  1. Shirley says:

    Jenn You are doing great, everytime I see you a think wow if she is able to do that then so can I. I love to go to the workouts with you and Tyler because working out with other people motivates me. Working at the hospital motivates me, I work in the Cancer Clinic and I don’t want to be there like you once were. My family motivates me, I lost my Mother when she was 56 years old, I just lost my brother he was 52. I want to be here for my children and I want to be a good example for my daughter. Thank you for letting me into your life and keep up the great work.

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